The night is young. Your favorite band is in town—or at least some band is in town, and that will do for now. You have your earplugs, and the edible should hit in 20 minutes.
Think fast: Where in the room are you going to be when the headliner takes the stage?
From a seat with excruciating acoustics to a seemingly eternal line for the ATM, it doesn’t take much to ruin your enjoyment of a concert. The buzzkills are everywhere.
Unless you come prepared.
There are 300 music venues in Portland, ranging from the cozy Honey Latte Cafe to the cavernous Moda Center. All of them will be more fun if you’re armed with the knowledge of seasoned showgoers: the Portlanders who know the perfect alcove for making out at Holocene or the best ways to “accidentally” run into musicians at the Aladdin Theater.
Enter WW’s music correspondents, who drew from their own extensive experiences—plus interviews with fans, artists, and music industry insiders—to create a guidebook of tips and tricks to help you navigate nine of Portland’s most popular music venues.
Simply put, we’re here to tell you some useful shit. That means being honest, even when things get weird. We’ll tell you which bathroom to avoid at the Alberta Rose Theatre, how to find the semi-secret entrance to the Crystal Ballroom, and which venue is haunted (allegedly) by the ghost of a strangled publicity agent. And we asked 2022 Best New Bands finalist Glitterfox to list their five favorite Portland venues to play.
Live music is unpredictable, especially in the backwash of a pandemic. You can’t control which shows get canceled or which bands bomb, but you can control how well acquainted you are with the spaces where it all happens.
What’s in the following pages will save you time and money, shorten your wait for a piss, and give you something to talk about during the opener. Knowledge is power—especially when you want to keep calm and party on. —Bennett Campbell Ferguson, Assistant Arts & Culture Editor